Summertime is a welcome break from doom and gloom for most, as we’re able to hopefully build up a tan and bask in the sunlight. However, the heat and activities that come along with summer can also cause you to lose out on some valuable sleep.
Read on for sound advice from sleep professionals, as they share their top tips on how you can get your valued sleep during summer.
Benjamin - BrilliantSide
“There are two super effective ways to get a great night's sleep in the summer:
- Making sure you are the right temperature.
- Shutting off your mind.
The body lowers in temperature as you get ready to fall asleep. While your body is asleep it is actually about one or two degrees cooler than it would be if you were awake. This means if you are too hot while you are trying to fall asleep, you are going to find it very difficult to drift off to dreamland.
A great way to solve this is to take a quick shower. It doesn’t have to be a cold shower either, even a warm shower will help. When you finish the shower and are drying off, the evaporation of the water will actually cool you down and prepare you for sleep. It sort of tricks your body into sleep mode.
The second way to have a great night's sleep in the summer is to shut off your mind. You can do this through a white noise machine, a guided meditation, gentle music, or a hypnosis recording designed for sleep. Occupying your mind with a sleep inducing hypnosis mp3 can keep you focused on relaxing rather than worrying about mistakes you’ve made in the past or what you need to do tomorrow.
You are able to calm your mind down, which triggers your body to become relaxed, and allows you to fall asleep.”
Rachel, Wake Up With Zest
“Sleepiness is driven by a drop in body temperature, here are a few tips to ensure you still get your quality shut eye during those hot summer nights.
- Close curtains and windows during the day to keep the hot air out and if possible keep windows open at night.
- Invest in a decent fan for the bedroom to keep you cool; put a shallow bowl of ice in front of the fan to further reduce the room temperature.
- Use white noise to lull you to sleep try something like the sounds of ocean waves or rain.
- Have a tepid shower rather than a cold one before going to bed.
- If it’s going to be a humid night, use a spare duvet cover or top sheet instead of a duvet, but have some layers around if you get chilly in the night.
- Put face cloths in plastic bags in the freezer, use them on your head, face, neck or shoulders.
- Wear lighter, thinner night wear or sleep in the buff to keep you cooler.
- Keep well hydrated with water during the day and before bedtime; avoid alcohol as it will disturb your sleep.”
Amy, Swanwick Sleep
- Keep it cool
Keeping your bedroom cool in Summer is especially important for sleep. By adjusting your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees (or 15 to 16 degrees Celsius), you will fall asleep easier. Research has shown that when you’re trying to get to sleep, your brain prefers the cold. Studies have shown that dropping the core temperature is known to help insomniacs sleep almost as well as those without sleep issues.
If your sleeping conditions are too hot, or even too cold, your body has a hard time adjusting your inner body “thermostat” and this can keep you awake and tossing and turning in bed and not reaching the deep sleep state. When you’re in a cool room, the drop in your core temperature triggers a “go to bed” signal in your body. Not only this, sleeping in the cold has many health benefits such as lessening your risk of developing metabolic diseases, and helping you to look younger. This is because when your body is cool, it increases your body’s release of melatonin which is one of the body’s most pivotal anti-aging hormones. Your body will also have higher levels of growth hormone when it’s cool and sleeping which is another anti-aging hormone. All these positive hormones in your body will make you look and feel younger!
- Have a digital curfew
Having a digital curfew is actually helpful all year round - not just in the Summer! Studies show that staring at a smartphone, iPad, TV or computer screen 90 minutes before bed will disrupt your sleep. Looking at artificial blue light emitted by electronic screens suppresses your melatonin secretion and triggers your body to produce more daytime hormones like cortisol. Melatonin helps you get deep, anabolic sleep. You may be able to fall asleep soon after using your electronics. But it disorients your body's natural preparation for sleep, which means you will wake up tired. So commit to switching off all electronics two hours before sleep.
If you find it hard to impose a digital curfew, that's ok! You can solve this problem by wearing blue light blocking glasses, such as Swannies, to block the artificial blue
Light. So, 90 minutes before sleep, put your Swannies on and continue to look at your smart phones, watch TV or work on your computer. You can then fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
- Blackout your room
Humans sleep more deeply in a dark environment. When we were cavemen and cavewomen, we slept when the sun went down and in darkness. You couldn't see anything, so you might as well have gone to sleep.
Today, we have so much artificial light in our lives like light-bulbs and electronics - we often do not sleep in total darkness. It's a modern problem. Having any light sources in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep patterns. Your skin actually has receptors that pick up light. If there's light in your bedroom, your body is sensing it and sending messages to your brain that interferes with your sleep. Invest in dark, heavy curtains that completely block out outside light. Make your room a cave. You can invest in a sleep mask if you think it will help. Your sleep will improve dramatically.
- Get some morning sunlight
Science proves that getting more sunlight - especially early morning sunlight - helps you sleep better at night. Your body has a naturally biological clock called your “circadian rhythm”. It wants to know when it’s daytime and nighttime. So go outside, stand in the sun, and tell your body it’s daytime.
When you expose your body to sunlight, your body “wakes up” triggering natural daytime hormones. The body clock is most responsive to early morning sunlight, between 6am and 8.30am. So when you wake up, go for a walk for at least 30 minutes. If you’re stuck in an office away from natural light, go outside after lunch for a 15-minute walk and expose your body to sunlight. All of this sunlight during the day will be informing your circadian rhythm that it’s daytime. Then later when the sun goes down, and you’re wearing your Swannies and you’ve switched off the lights in your blackened out room...your body will know that it’s nighttime and ready itself for sleep. This will help you sleep through the night until you wake up refreshed and go outside in the sun again.
- Exercise regularly
Summer often provides great weather to exercise in. If you don’t regularly exercise, just start with light exercise anytime throughout the day and work towards creating a
heavier exercise routine. Exercise will dramatically improve your quality of sleep and it is also known to relieve insomnia. A study conducted at Northwestern University found that people who did aerobic exercise four times per week had better quality sleep and they were less tired during the day. So get physical and reap the benefits of great sleep!”
Christabel, Christabel Majendie
“In the summertime, two things can disrupt your sleep: heat and light. Your body temperature normally drops before you go to sleep and this is a signal to your brain that it is sleep time. This process is disrupted if the outside temperature is high. The ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 16-18 degrees. Anything much higher will make it harder for you to drop off to sleep and to stay asleep, giving you restless nights.
On hot days you need to manage the room temperature and your body temperature. Try taking a tepid bath or shower before bed and wear light nightwear made from natural fibres as synthetic materials absorb less moisture so make you feel more sweaty. Or put a hot water bottle filled with icy water in your bed. Keep windows closed and curtains drawn during the day to keep the room cool but an hour before bed, open windows and doors in the house to create a draught. Sleep with the bedroom door open if possible and if you have a loft room or attic with windows, open them at night to allow the hot air to rise out of the house. If there is room, try putting your mattress lower down on the floor where it will be a little cooler.
You could also try these strategies:
- Cool socks in the freezer then put them on to lower your temperature before bed but take them off before your feet heat up again.
- Keep a spray bottle by your bed to mist your face and neck in the night if you wake up hot, or keep a damp cloth or flannel by your bed.
- Put your pillow cases and bed sheets or other bedding (if room!) in the fridge or freezer before bed. If you wake up hot in the night, try turning the pillow over to the cooler side which hasn’t absorbed your body heat.
Make sure late evening or early morning sunlight does not creep into your bedroom when you sleep. Install black out blinds or thick curtains to maintain darkness when you sleep. It’s important to get a good dose of sunlight during the day as this is important for melatonin production at night, the hormone that regulates sleep. Aim to get outside in the morning or lunchtime and optimise sunlight’s effect on your sleep with a dose of moderate exercise which will improve sleep quality and increase deep sleep.”
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Jeff, Sleep Junkies
“I spend my summers with family in Greece, and boy does it get hot there! Unsurprisingly the locals have lots of ways to deal with the baking summer nights, so I'll share some of these tips with you here:
Although air conditioning is not that common in homes, many bedrooms have large ceiling fans, the bigger the better - larger fan blades can move more volume of air at lower fan speeds. The idea is not necessarily cool the room down, but to circulate any stale air, which also has the effect of removing some of the moisture that evaporates from sweaty bodies.
In the Mediterranean you'll also find a lot of people sleeping with their bedroom doors open during the summer. Although not an ideal solution for those intimate moments, it makes a lot of sense to have a direct ventilation path from window to your bedroom door.
Also, back in the UK, as soon as the sun comes out we love to open all the windows wide to let as much light into the house. In the Med, they do the opposite. During the day, pretty much every window in the house is drawn and shuttered, because sunlight heats up the house, which makes the bedroom too hot for sleeping when it comes to bedtime.
On the other hand, if none of the old-fashioned methods for keeping cool at night aren't working, you could resort to one of the many hi-tech bed cooling solutions that have emerged in the last few years.
Chilipad makes a liquid-cooled mattress pad, that circulates ice-cold water through a network of fine tubes. BedJet is a NASA-engineered advanced ventilation system for cooling and heating your bed in seconds. You can also purchase special Bed Fans which blow air under your sheets, including the Night Bliss Fan system which is specifically designed for women who suffer from hot flushes at night.
Remember, temperature is a vital component of sleep regulation. Your room should ideally be around the mid 60s Fahrenheit for an optimum night's sleep. When it's hot at night stick to natural fabrics, cotton, silk, wool-based bedding is the best. You should even consider sleeping naked too if it gets really hot, research has shown there are some real benefits to snoozing in the buff.”
“Staying cool is the biggest challenge in the summer. Your core body temperature needs to decrease in the evening in order for you to fall asleep and stay asleep comfortably.
So how to stay cool?
- Exercise raises your core body temperature, that's why it's not recommended in the three hours before you want to go to bed
- Try exercising in the morning or at lunchtime instead of in the evening, and do it outside! This way you not only avoid it right before bed, but you also get bright light during the day.
- Bright light during the day will keep your biological clock on schedule helping you fall asleep at night.
- A fan or A/C is preferred on really hot nights to drop the room temperature to the optimal 18C or 65F. The white noise of the fan can also block out other noises (perhaps from having the window open)
Darkness is the other big challenge in the summer. Your body will produce the nighttime hormone melatonin about 2-3 hours before you go to bed. However, if there’s still a lot of bright light, including blue light from your devices, your body won’t produce melatonin and thus won’t be preparing you for sleep.
So how to keep your last few hours of the day dark?
- Use blue light blocking software for your phone, computer and tablet, which will reduce the blue light emitted from the screen when the sun starts to set. For your phone and tablet, the latest iOS and Android versions have these settings built in. There are also apps such as Redshift and Twilight. For the laptop, there is f.lux.
- Avoid using your phone/tablet or laptop in the bedroom, especially for email, social media, and watching/streaming TV
- Close the curtains ~ 2-3 hours before bedtime
Use dimmable lights or orange light bulbs in the evening”
Well, there it is. What will you do to improve your sleep? It’s time to beat the heat and get some quality sleep during (arguably) the best part of the year! As well as sleeping during the summer, you may also struggle to get up in the morning, check out this great guide to find out what kind of morning person you are!